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HD DVD Review: The Invasion

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The world didn’t need a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The original took the concept as far as it was probably going to go. However, if it’s going to happen, it might as well end up like this Nicole Kidman-starring piece. While flawed, there are enough tension and characters to make this an exciting update to an old concept.

As a space shuttle crash lands on Earth, so does an infectious alien being. Turning the human population into emotionless pieces of themselves, the standard array of scientists sets out to find a cure and stop the spread. Nicole Kidman is stuck in the middle as a psychiatrist who slowly figures out what’s going on, and her son is caught in the middle. What follow are loads of creepy sequences, thrilling chases, and an occasionally uneven pacing.

The romance between Daniel Craig and Kidman goes nowhere, and is a plot device better left unused. However, the superb build-up to the full realization of what’s going on makes up for it. Creepy scenes are here in droves, the best being the eerie visit to Kidman’s character’s house by a supposed census bureau employee. The film effectively pulls off scenes in which the audience is unsure of who has been taken over and who hasn’t. A creepy kid doesn’t hurt either.

The concept of sleep playing a role in the aliens' process of taking over the body is a solid one. It creates an extra layer of tension and fear in the audience, and lets the script lead into a few dangerous scenes that would otherwise be avoided. Fancy camera work and destruction lend a nice sense of panic to the driving sequences, especially the phenomenal finale.

As the film hits its high gear, the endless scenes of running or driving recklessly do grow tiring. Some of the annoying, jumpy editing is not only irritating, it’s confusing. The quick cuts jump from one time to another for brief flashes. The style is needless and only takes away from the film.

Bombing at the box office and bashed by many critics, it’s hard to deny the uselessness of another Body Snatchers update. Still, The Invasion is done well, even without the horror of the 1978 version, or cold static style of the original. It’s a different spin on a fun concept, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The overly soft HD transfer is a slight disappointment, but still manages to deliver. It’s still sharp enough to handle rain beautifully, and the excellent color depth shines. A light layer of film grain isn’t a problem. The black levels tend to take on odd colors, dipping into off-colored hues of green or blue. Small details, especially during close ups, can make for it.

When called on, the TrueHD mix can deliver. The opening space craft explosion is a flawless piece of home audio, as is the finale. Cars crash with an effective dose of bass, and zip through the rear speakers perfectly. In between those scenes (for much of the film), the mix is front loaded.

Extras are brief and disappointing. Three brief featurettes (around three minutes each) are mostly promotional in nature. The make-up piece is the only one worth watching. We’ve Been Snatched Before is supposed to be a retrospective on the various retellings, yet only seems to have its mind set on this most recent adaptation for its 19 minute running time.

While directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, the studio failed to let his version be released. They ordered rewrites by the Wachowski brothers, and a new director in James McTeigue was called in to shoot the new scenes. The original cut is never mentioned on the DVD, nor do any of the scenes that were cut make an appearance.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.